There’s a new documentary out on the Jonestown massacre called Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple, and it’s at the Quad on West 13th Street this week. At the same time, there’s also a new album, released yesterday, from the unfortunately monikered Harlem rapper Jim Jones. One Jim Jones led the biggest mass suicide in history. The other Jim Jones has his track “We Fly High” — with its ubiquitous call to arms, “Ballin’!” — blasting out of nearly every car stereo in the city. Is the new Jones overtaking the old one? We consider …
Position of Power
Old Jones: Preaching apostolic socialism and racial equality, minister Jim Jones founded the People’s Temple Church in the mid-seventies. Renowned for his acceptance of African-Americans and his criticism of the Bible, Jones was seen as a revolutionary figure on the Evangelical scene.
New Jones: Along with childhood friend Cam’ron, Jones founded the Diplomats crew, and he’s currently its capo. Referred to as Dipset, the crew has grown into a record label and a movement including Harlem rappers Juelz Santana, J.R. Writer, and 40 Glocc.
• Verdict: Ministers don’t get perk-filled concert contract riders. Round one goes to New Jim Jones.
Old Jones: Jones attracted new members to the church through his miracle healings and claimed to be an incarnation of Jesus, Buddha, and Lenin.
New Jones: Claiming that “Dipset got this shit up on smash,” Jones has branded himself a “certified gangster.”
• Verdict: Jesus and Buddha are a powerful duo, but sprinkling Lenin in the mix puts the good minister over the top. Round two, Old Jim Jones.
Base of Operation
Old Jones: The minister moved his organization from sunny San Francisco to the tiny South American nation of Guyana in 1977 to avoid tax-evasion charges and to create the Jonestown commune.
New Jones: Jones and Dipset have deep roots in Harlem and would never leave their beloved upper Manhattan.
• Verdict: Sure, the minister had the town named after him, but you can’t take the A train to Jonestown. Round three, New Jim Jones.
Quality of Enemies
Old Jones: In 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan led an investigatory delegation to Guyana. As Ryan was boarding his flight home, a truckload of Jones’s armed guards arrived on the tarmac and shot at his delegation, leaving five dead. Later that day, the cult members would meet their maker.
New Jones: Jones recorded “Alarm,” a song designed to dis Jay-Z. The former retiree replied calmly: “Who is Jim Jones to be saying something about me? That’s like the ninth man off the bench sitting there shoutin’ ‘you a bum’ to the superstar on court puttin’ up 50 every night. This is just crazy.”
• Verdict: The Jay-Z feud didn’t lead to any mass suicides. Advantage, Old Jim Jones.
Old Jones: Minister Jones not only convinced 909 people to move to an obscure South American country, he also talked them into killing themselves with fruit punch once they were there.
New Jones: “We Fly High” has single-handedly resurrected the once-legendary Dipset crew, running on fumes since top dog Cam’ron’s “Killa Season” flopped.
• Verdict: Aaaaaaand Old Jim Jones takes the cake with a devastating right hook of a final round. Having that kind of mind control? Now that’s ballin’!
— Amos Barshad